A Michigan man will soon be $100,000 richer thanks to a rock he’s owned for over 30 years.
In January 2018, the Grand Rapids native brought a large rock that he’s been using as a doorstop to Central Michigan University geology professor Monaliza Sirbescu. For almost two decades, Sirbescu has been asked to examine rocks, routinely receiving the same question — Is this a meteorite?
“For 18 years, the answer has been categorically ‘no’ — meteor wrongs, not meteorites,” she told CMU News.
But upon inspection, Sirbescu was finally able to respond with a confident “yes.”
After carefully looking at the 22.5-pound rock — the largest Sirbescu has been asked to examine in her tenure — the professor determined that it was a meteorite in this man’s possession and a very valuable one at that.
The discovery, which became Michigan’s sixth-largest recorded meteorite, is estimated to be worth $100,000.
“Within minutes — within seconds — I knew that this was it. It was a real one,” she said in the video posted on YouTube by the school.
Added Sirbescu: “It’s the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically.”
The man — who was identified by Fox News as David Mazurek — inherited the rock in 1988 from a previous farmland owner, who claimed that he and his father witnessed the meteorite fall from the sky in the 1930s.
“And it made a heck of a noise when it hit,” the farmer recalled to Mazurek at the time.
Upon purchasing the land in Edmore, MI more than 50 years after the meteorite crash, the farmer allegedly told him he could keep the rock — which was holding the property’s shed door open — since it was part of the land.
It didn’t occur to Mazurek to take the rock in for inspection until a recent meteorite shower in Michigan occurred on Jan. 17, according to Detroit Free Press, and he learned that people were making profits off of the fallen pieces of debris from space.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute. I wonder how much mine is worth?'” Mazurek told CMU News.
Sirbescu determined his unique possession to be a rarity as it is made from an unusually high percentage of nickel.
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Sirbescu’s conclusion was also confirmed by a curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, which is reportedly considering to buy the meteorite for display. In addition, the sample was sent to a professor at UCLA in Los Angeles for composition analysis, which could reveal more “rare elements” which would increase its value even more.
While it is uncertain where Mazurek plans to sell the meteorite to, he said he would give 10 percent of the sale back to the CMU Earth and Atmospheric Science program to be used for student funding.
Whatever that amount turns out to be, Sirbescu knows the out-of-world experience for her and her students has already outweighed any potential profit.
“Just think,” she said. “What I was holding is a piece of the early solar system that literally fell into our hands.”
Added Sirbescu: “Just being able to play a major role in discovering the identification and classification of this meteorite, CMU is going to establish its reputation.”